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The Labour of Breath: performing and designing breath in cinema

Greene, L (2016) The Labour of Breath: performing and designing breath in cinema. Music, Sound, and the Moving Image, 10 (2). pp. 109-133. ISSN 1753-0768

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The presence of breath in fiction film is a conscious choice by filmmakers. Since the introduction of Dolby sound in the mid 1970s we have experienced a significant development in the quality of playback systems in cinemas, meaning we are now more clearly able to hear the breathing performance of an actor. The inclusion of breath offers a technologically enhanced aural close up of characters within the story. This article will consider two ostensibly different examples, The Elephant Man (David Lynch, 1980) and Rising Sun (Philip Kaufman, 1992), both films are the work of the sound designer Alan Splet. Drawing from these films and archival material from the Splet/Kroeber Sound Mountain sound effects library, this article seeks to address the role of breathing within these films, considering issues such as: breathing and disability; the gendering of breath; and the depiction of differing industrial (19th century England) and technological (20th century America) environments, both of which are associated with different levels of air quality. The archival material will broaden out the discussion of these elements illustrating the post-production design of breath and air in these fiction films.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 1904 Performing Arts And Creative Writing
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
Divisions: Screen School
Publisher: University of Liverpool Press
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2019 11:05
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 04:02
DOI or ID number: 10.3828/msmi.2016.7
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/5961
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